Nutrition Part II (of infinity)

Previously, I spoke to the difficulties with nutrition research. ICYMI, here it is:

Today I want to focus in on a couple of things that make nutrition difficult in general and provide some solutions for you. As a supervisor, I don’t want you to bring me just a problem, I want a suggested solution too. As your resident blogger, I try to follow that same rule.

Issue #1: for some reason, nutrition becomes a religious experience rather than a simple consumption of food experience. This then makes it difficult to keep an open cranium to information. If you’re catholic and I tell you I eat meat on Friday during lent, you aren’t going to agree with me regardless of my stance or proof.

How many people have you met that told you: “I’m a vegan”, “I’m paleo”, “I’m low carb”, “I eat non-GMO”…

I guarantee those same people don’t lead conversations with “I get my oil changed exclusively at Jiffy Lube” or “Hi, I use AT&T, not Verizon”. That would be ridiculous, am I right? No one cares where you get your oil changed or what phone carrier you utilize. I’m going to let you in on a secret here; please lean in close so I can whisper: no one cares what you eat either.

Not only do people feel driven to announce what/how they eat, they are also strongly compelled to influence you to do the same. Why? Because the way they eat somehow defines them and whether they know it or not, they are relating their consumption of food to MORALITY.

Food has no moral designation. Are carrots more inherently healthy for you than carrot cake? Probably so. Do you deserve to do jail time for eating carrot cake? Unless you were ripping off a savings and loan while concurrently munching on your treat, probably not.

Solution: realize that how you eat doesn’t affect anyone but YOU! And realize that just because Sheila from accounting lost 50 pounds on the celery juice and air diet, that isn’t likely the best plan for you (or Sheila either).

Issue #2: companies have a vested interest in influencing what you eat

Marketing companies are powerful. They quite literally drive our choices in everything from cars to deodorant products. They sexy things up to the point that consumers are misled into making less than optimal choices.

Pop-tarts has upped their game! They now come in a wholesome looking matte cardboard box. They have healthy names like Orchard Apple Cinnamon and they’re GMO free!!!!

And they’re called Pop-Tarts Simply. Yeah. Still SIMPLY A POOR FOOD CHOICE!

Solution: educate yourself on reading and understanding food labels. The tactics and strategies that I employ are as follows…

  1. If it's a multiple serving package (this one pictured below isn't), see what portion is one serving. Is it a cup, a fraction, a number of grams? How many servings are in the package? The 3.5 oz gas station size Dorito packages are actually 2 servings and a 20 oz Coke is 2.5 servings. The new nutrition labels must put the information for the whole package if it's conceivable you'd eat the whole package (like the Doritos or the Coke).

  2. Look down near the bottom to check for grams of protein. I'm a protein snob. If it doesn't have 20 grams minimum, I'm probably not eating it unless it's very delicious or very low calorie overall.

  3. Next, look up near the top for the fat grams and percentage of daily value. I'm not afraid of fat, nor should you be afraid of fat. But if you're eating 50% of your RDA on one small treat, it better be a damn good treat!

  4. Scan down and look at the carbohydrate and added sugar. Again, these are not evil things, but if it's high carb and high fat and low protein, it's high calories too. Now you've gotta ask yourself: is this fuel worth it?

Bonus: serving sizes do matter. A peanut butter serving size is 2 T or 32 g. Most people tend to double that easily without thinking twice. They just stick their knife into the jar and spread onto their bread until it looks good! For fun sometime, measure out 2 T PB exactly and see how small that is. And just know that it's still probably exceeding the 32 grams which is what the calories are based on.

**The food label below actually does contain 17 g protein, but I still wouldn't eat it! I can get 17 g protein in less than 150 calories worth of chicken :)

Bonus points for anyone who can guess what this nutrition travesty is!

Until next time,

AZ out